I lay my luggage bag on the floor in front of me, juggling my phone and iced Frappuccino in my hands as I settled into the hard, bland chair behind me. I glanced outside to the rows of jumbo airplanes that lay neatly and patiently in the docks. I watched one plane with a red tail gracefully lift through the air. I gulped and silently prayed for the passengers inside, crossing my fingers in habit. I was never one for planes, but when the reward is a whole summer in L.A. with your stupendously rich cousins on a beachside mansion, an 11-hour flight is surely happily accepted.
“Yes, mum, I’m on my way now.” I tried to sound sophisticated and calm, but I was secretly close to screaming my lungs out in a fit of frantic celebration. Summer break. The words flowed through me like a calming wave of relief, and I grinned as mum continued her familiar speech of safety and security. I tousled my dirty blonde hair and questioned her on certain scenarios (Eat my carrots? Do you want a ginger child?) trying to innocently spice things up. That was the problem with me, always trying to crack a joke in the most serious of times.
“Mum? Why on Earth would I run away with a bunch of strangers to a shifty night club and not call or be with someone I know?” Mum and I giggled, but once the moment had passed, I felt her whole attitude change as her breathing slowed, and she sobbed quietly into the phone, holding in as many tears as she could for my sake.
“Mum? I won’t actually run away.” She laughed and told me how proud she was of me and many other heartwarming, motherly compliments as I shushed and consoled her. I heard her take a deep breath and confirm that she was O.K, and I gushed about how I should become a professional consoler (I pride myself in my flawless compassion and empathy, but there never seems to be a time for my selfless gloating).
“21 and already studying Business and Law! I remember when you were five, and you thought that the world literally revolved around you.” I could sense mum laughing and reminiscing about my small, dimpled, freckle-covered cheeks and how they felt being squeezed between her forefinger and thumb. I chuckled and listened to a chirpy, English voice echo through the large, white hallways of the airport, followed by a series of twinkling keys.
“Yes Mum, but my flights in ten minutes. No time to get sentimental. After all, if I’m not on time, how will the world function? I imagine an Armageddon-like event will follow. A Rose-Apocalypse, if you will.” I seemed to be having another giggling episode as Mum concluded the phone call.
“I love you my sweet, sweet Rose”
“And I you”
“That’s my girl. Say hi to Beth and Sophie for me.”
“I will! And can you tell dad-“
“Rose. He’s on vacation with his… Fiancée.” Mum forced the words out of her mouth like you would a pip in an orange. I felt a tremendous weight being piled onto my shoulders, and my near-psychotic skipping toward the gate turned into a dull march. I neared the queue and found myself to be the last passenger to board. I scurried up to the lady in freshly ironed uniform and make-up consumed face, and she gestured towards my phone as I nodded and handed the unusually positive lady my ticket.
“Oh mum. I know this must be hard on you, but I’ll be back in three months. I love you, and you raised me well. I don’t know why dad left, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love… That he doesn’t care… That he wants us to be left helpless. I have to go, but I’ll call you in about…” I bit my lip, as I grabbed my ticket and scurried through the curved, grey hallway to the plane door. “Twelve hours. I love you lots!” And we proceeded to make exaggerated, unrealistic kisses into the microphone.
I hung up and sheepishly shrugged as the small, but slightly attractive flight attendant stared at me with a quizzical and judgmental frown. I lifted my bag over the platform and began my hesitant way through the crying babies and chubby middle-aged men and obnoxious twelve-year-olds.
“Boyfriend?” He asked, a twinkle appearing in his eyes. I noticed the way his eyes grazed my killer body and perfect features (if I do say so myself), and immediately got the hint. Was this adorable, red-haired, green-eyed Irishman flirting with me? Damn, British Airways these days…
“No. My Mum was just saying goodbye. I’m single….” I brushed past him in a breezy manner, sending a flirtatious wink his way. He blushed and I grinned as I cooed “And ready to mingle.”
I tried so hard not to burst out with a cackling laughter as he smiled shyly behind me. Oh, how I loved a good tease. Why go through life unnoticed? That’s my life motto. As I strutted down the aisle (What? Can’t a girl try to impress as many people on a plane, including a good old romantic interest, in as many ways possible?), I felt his eyes burning through me, and I silently regretted looking and being so amazingly attractive.
Well, at least I was allowed a bit of eye-candy for the next 11 hours!
* * *
I arrived at the muggy airport in my jeans and cardigan. I always forget to change into temperature-appropriate clothing. I decided to get changed in the bathrooms outside the gate, and once I finished, I stared at my pale reflection in the mirror. I sighed and wet my hands to smooth down any loose strands of hair. I paused as I almost washed away the row of numbers given to me by a certain persistent, and surprisingly confident, Irish boy. I was about to wash the number away, but I decided that Sophie and I would probably need to gush over it and may even have time to get an anonymous call prepared.
I strolled outside of the restrooms and, lost in the giddiness of the moment, felt a small, painful jolt as my foot collided with a white metal magazine holder. My instincts kicked in as the world spun around me and hundreds of pages floated in the air. I braced my fall with my hands as a hesitant but fast shop assistant lifted me off my front, muttering several apologies and excuses as I shrugged them away. With the giddiness from earlier still fresh in my mind, I smiled and laughed with her. She handed me a magazine before I walked away (as a token of her regret) and I flicked through the articles until I saw another addition to a seemingly endless string of repetitive scenarios that caused me to scoff in disgust.
“Harry Styles is caught with another girl.” I commentated, putting on my best American accent. The girl seemed slightly offended as I added a melodramatic “Is he cheating on Kendall AGAIN?”
“I happen to like Harry Styles.” She squared her shoulders and gave me an ice-cold stare. Jeez, If looks could kill…
“Well then.” I replied, with a cocky demeanor and a towering position (Thank god I wore my heels). "I guess you should join the other millions of pointless, hopeless romantics who dream they will be Harry Styles’ ‘One and only’.” I grinned in satisfactory as I strolled off, turning around to confidently flick the magazine in the nearby recycle bin. Actually, I took it out, seeing that it deserved worse, and shoved it into the rubbish bin.
“Have fun living a lonely life!”
I groaned as I rounded the corner. I didn’t want to be rude to anyone today! Summer break! I moaned, grudgingly looking to my left and stopping, seeing an unidentified speeding person crash into me, knocking me off my guard as I hurriedly regained my footing. I screamed as realisation crossed my face, and I jumped and danced around the airport as Sophie returned my excitement.
“Sophie!” I yelled, and bathed myself in her familiar air.
“Hi you 21-year-old Brit! Someone’s been working out! You don’t need to impress me that much, hon.”
“Oh shut up, you obnoxious 22-year-old American! I can see my charm and wit has rubbed off on you already! How did you survive without me”
“Older by 7 months! I have more authority and I am MUCH cooler than you, so you get everything you know from me.” She giggled and I took a moment to admire her blonde hair, tanned skin, and bright blue eyes. I always loved her cute, short fashion sense, ad she had legs that went on forever and curves like Beyoncé. We always argued over who was prettiest, but the truth is, we’re both so different, that we never settle that argument.
We continued our childish parade as I grabbed my bag from the conveyor belt and gushed about the last six months since we parted. We settled down and began our trek to Beth in the car park when Sophie noticed the row of numbers on my hand. She gasped and I winked at her until she almost burst with excitement. Or laughter, basically the same thing when you hang out with us.
“Someone’s been busy. Still single, or not for long?” Sophie wiggled her eyebrows suggestively as I recounted my high altitude love story, pausing to laugh and join in familiar practices of dramatised inside jokes and fits of hysterics. When I finished my story, we found ourselves stumbling upon new and old trends, until Sophie gushed about the infamous One Direction.
“They were on the beach down the road! And Niall walked past the corner shop! I could almost cry!” I shrugged and, realising we were already at the car park, started to load my bags into the familiar Mercedes. The heat was already starting to bite and I hurried inside the car. I leaned back and smiled as Sophie gushed about Niall, Zayn, Louis, Liam, but I refrained from any sign of affection when she talked about…
“What’s so wrong with Harry?” She frowned. Uh-oh. Sophie seemed to have turned to the dark side as Beth (of whom I chivalrously greeted), started the short trip to the luxurious beach house of which I was anxious to step inside and prepare for a gorgeous few hours on the beach. I dragged myself away from my Harry-free daydream as I turned to Sophie with a stern expression.
“He’s a womaniser. I enjoy a good flirt and a quick date but that’s different. He seems to only want a ‘good time’, If you know what I mean. He’s definitely gorgeous, but he’s pretty pathetic if you ask me."
Sophie shut her gaping mouth as we leaped out the car and took all my things to my new room. We were quiet for at least 5 minutes (a record) until she shrugged it off and left me to travel up the street to meet a few of her friends. I declined her invite, relaying my beachside fantasy and collapsed onto my bed. I marvelled at the structure of the house. Large, spacious, and sleek. It was white on the outside, and a gorgeous timber finish on the inside. The backyard contained at least ten deck chairs and an amazingly large pool.
I got changed into a plain white bikini, and wrapped a sarong around my waist. I slipped on my oversized black hat and white flip-flops and packed my phone, sunscreen (god forbid my British skin betrays me now), sunglasses, towel and purse into my floral, straw beach bag. I called out to Beth that I was going out to the beach. I held my head high to start my very own L.A. summer break.
And I had a feeling; it was going to be the best summer break yet.